Express & Star

Star comment: Getting up a head of steam to boost local economy

The economy of the West Midlands is interlinked. Towns feed off one another and support one another, providing trade that keeps people in work and businesses afloat.

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Severn Valley Railway

Much has been said about the importance of creating a location. That is why towns and cities across the West Midlands are busy trying to turn their high streets into attractive destinations, as they provide leisure, recreation and hospitality.

Southwater, in Telford, has succeeded in adding leisure opportunities and dining areas that encourage people to stay in the town for the day, spending their money with shops and businesses along the way. Wolverhampton is attempting to do the same with its troubled Westside development.

Bridgnorth is a beautiful market town that people like to visit. It also has the advantage of the Severn Valley Railway terminating its journeys there. That means thousands of visitors will, with a couple of hours to spare, wander into town and enjoys the shops, pubs and cafes.

Today business leaders speak of their concern at falling visitor numbers to the SVR in the wake of the economic crisis. That is not good news for the SVR and it is also worrying for other businesses in the town.

Bridgnorth is a microcosm of the challenge facing our entire region. A difficulty in one area will impact on others. That is why local authorities and businesses leaders must do their utmost to offer support to each other, for the greater good.

People who can afford a nice day out are supporting the region’s economy by spending in such towns as Bridgnorth. There is a knock-on effect and policy-makers must strive to make our region attractive.


The comedy duo Cannon and Ball were household names in an era when times were simpler.

A generation grew up with them and during the pandemic, the duo spoke regularly on Radio 5 after their song Together We’ll Be OK was adopted to cheer people up. Unbeknown to them, Bobby Ball would become one of those who succumbed to Covid.

Tommy Cannon is now back on the road, with a number of dates in the West Midlands. He will tell the story of the pair’s time in showbusiness and also about an enduring friendship.

Cannon and Ball represent a different era of comedy. They brought much happiness to many and it is wonderful that Tommy is continuing to tell their story.

It promises to be a happy night out for people who grew up on their slapstick routines as Tommy delights local audiences.